Every year, on or around February 12, American Humanist Association chapters and local humanist groups hold events in celebration of International Darwin Day. The American Humanist Association encourages humanists to participate or host a local Darwin Day event, and below is a list of some of the activities that took place around the country this year in honor of Charles Darwin. Let us know if you attended one of the events listed below or one in your area.
In conjunction with the Central New York Coalition of Reason, the Central New York Humanist Association celebrated not just Darwin Day but Darwin Week, with events for both adults and children. On Sunday, February 5, they screened Creation, a biographical drama about Charles Darwin’s relationship with his wife and eldest daughter. After the movie attendees enjoyed a party where they reportedly donned Darwin beards in homage to the revolutionary scientist.
On Saturday, February 11, 2017, members of the Secular and Social CNY Families headed to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo to learn more about animals and evolution.
For the second year in a row, the Humanists and Freethinkers of Farfield County (in Connecticut) co-sponsored the annual Darwin Day Dinner in Darien, Connecticut (now in its ninth year). Advertised as “the best science party this side of the Kuiper Belt,” humanists celebrated all of Darwin’s contributions at the February 11 event, with a cocktail hour, dinner, a science quiz with prizes, and a talk from Dr. Walter Jetz, associate professor at Yale University. The talk, titled “Chasing Birds with Satellites—Taking the Pulse of the Planet,” focused on behavioral and global changes affecting species and biodiversity monitoring efforts worldwide.
That same evening, the Secular Humanist Society of New York hosted Professor Abby Hafer who gave a humor-filled talk entitled “Darwin’s Evolution Odyssey: Tales from the Frontline of Biology and Scientific Investigation.” The evening was filled with food, laughs, and friends.
Alexandria Freethinkers (Alexandria, Louisiana) hosted several activities on Friday, February 10, in celebration of Darwin Day. The day started on the campus of Louisiana State University at Alexandria with a “fossil dig and scavenger hunt” for local elementary, junior high, and high school students. Later they screened the PBS documentary Darwin’s Dangerous Ideas and had a short Q&A with Associate Biology Professor Christof Stumpf.
The Mississippi Humanist Association in Jackson, Mississippi, celebrated Darwin Day last Saturday by hosting Neil Carter, author and creator of the Patheos blog Godless in Dixie, who gave a presentation called “Why Jesus and Darwin Can’t Get Along.” The night was filled with good conversation, debates, and food.
On Sunday, February 12, members of the Richmond Humanists and Richmond Reason Naturalism Association watched the NOVA documentary Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, which “highlights both how strong the evidence for evolution is and how some with a theological impetus are constantly trying to undermine its validity and instruction.” After the documentary, they discussed the film in depth and enjoyed a pot-luck dinner.
Members of the Omaha Metro Area Humanist Association gathered at the University of Nebraska Medical Center on February 9 and attended a talk by Dr. Kate Lyons, professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her talk, entitled “Our lost world: the causes and consequences of the loss of ~1 billion large-bodied animals at the terminal Pleistocene,” focused on species diversity as affected by climate change.
For the fourth year in a row, the End of the Line Humanists of Oak Park, Illinois, had a party in Darwin’s honor on Darwin’s birthday, February 12. The night was filled with an evolution-themed presentation, games and prizes, a raffle, and refreshments.
On February 18, 2017, the Humanists of Minnesota will host Dr. Jeff Johnson, philosophy professor from St. Catherine University, who will talk about animal ethics and naturalism. The Minneapolis event will also feature door prizes, including a Darwin bobblehead!
Last Saturday members of the Humanists of Utah (in Salt Lake City) enjoyed a night filled with food, speakers, and learning. Attendees could peruse tables set up by local scientific-minded groups and organizations and learn more information about their groups, science, technology, and climate change. They also heard several speakers who discussed scientific studies and research of the past, present, and future. The night ended with a ceremonial Darwin Day cake.
Darwin on the Palouse is a free annual event in Moscow, Idaho, to celebrate humanity, science and rational thought. This year the February 11 event featured two guest speakers: Dr. Cheryl Miller and Dr. Kevin Folta. They focused on science and science advocacy by talking about vaccines and GMOs, respectively. After their talks, members of the Humanists of the Palouse headed to a local brewery to hang out with the speakers and enjoy birthday cake in honor of Charles Darwin.
Members of Central Colorado Humanists (Salida, Colorado) marked Darwin Day on Sunday with a screening of a the BBC documentary Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, which focuses on Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution through natural selection.
Members of the Humanist Association of Orange County celebrated Darwin Day on February 12 with a provocative talk by Phil Zuckerman, director of the Secular Studies Program at Pitzer College in Claremont. Professor Zuckerman’s talk “Secular versus Religious Morality in the Age of Trump” was relevant both to the current political scene and to a celebration of the rationalistic, scientific spirit of Charles Darwin.
Did you celebrate Darwin Day this year? If not, perhaps these events will inspire you and your group to do so in 2018. Here’s to making Darwin Day even bigger and better—a global celebration of science and humanity.